A funny thing happens every year in National Diabetes Week here in Australia and I am sure it happens across the world as follows:
1) The main players and policy makers decide on a focus, (which quite rightly given the huge numbers and costs to us all) is usually about something to do with type 2 diabetes and/or complications of diabetes and/or prevention of type 2 diabetes
2) People with type 1 diabetes and their families, (quite rightly given the lack of attention to type 1 diabetes and misunderstanding that face us every day), get up in arms about it and go in to battle
3) People with type 2 diabetes, (quite rightly given how hard it is to live with and the complexities behind why someone develops diabetes of any type, and yes a fat person is a person who may have many reasons for why they are fat which may include depression, fear and loneliness), begin to feel the weight of guilt and self loathing getting heavier for “causing” their own diabetes
Why is it like this?
Simply lack of understanding, mistrust, bad reporting and fear.
All of us are human beings first. We are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, bothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and lovers. We all laugh, cry, get angry, sad, worry and wonder what life is all about.
Then, we are people living with diabetes.
The problem is not the other person with diabetes that may be different to yours. The problem is not the government or major policy makers deciding to focus on one issue. Doing so does not mean the other issues do not matter.
The problem is people feeling frightened that they are not being heard.
The best solution to this is to stand together and speak loud. Don’t fragment the diabetes community by type, age, gender or place. This is as much discrimination as separating people by race or colour.
We are in this together people. We may have different kinds of diabetes just like we have different kinds of hair, eyes, families and lives. We are stuck with the name diabetes meaning many different things but instead of us fighting against this, why don’t we harness it, try to see the other point of view and perhaps we can have better outcomes?
In my family we have people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We may manage it differently, have different needs and possible future outcomes – but we also have connections, similarities, bonds. A few weeks ago I was on a diabetes wellbeing retreat at which we did not discriminate between “types” of diabetes. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes sat and shared stories. Cried together, laughed together, bonded. Ate meals and listened to each other talking about the similarities and the differences and appreciated each other.
That is the kind of thing I would like to see in National Diabetes Week. Bring it on.